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How are British degrees viewed by American Universities?

  1. Aug 27, 2012 #1
    This is about applying from a British undergraduate to an American graduate.
    How is a British degree viewed by an American university?
    Is a British applicant with a 1st Class Degree viewed just as favorably as an American candidate with GPA 4.0?
    Is there anything that goes in favor of the average British applicant compared to the average American candidate? (or vice versa)
    Would a year abroad, during undergrad, in an American university go in favor of a British application?
    Would a postgrad masters in a prestigious British uni go in favor of a British candidate, even if not required?

    I may add more.

    sorry, I have a lot of questions...

    Thanks for reading.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2012 #2
    What subject is this for?

  4. Aug 27, 2012 #3
    Physics / Theoretical Physics, don't know any specifics yet,
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  5. Aug 27, 2012 #4
    It all depends on whether they know your university. The larger your university is (and the more prestigious it is), the likelier it is to be known. Similarly, the larger the target university is (and the more prestigious it is), the likelier it is to at least recognize your university and put it into context. Usually, British universities are well known by American universities and vice versa, because both are English-speaking countries. I am not familiar with "1st class degree" however. I am aware of UK's secondary school system, and their GCSE and A-levels, but not so much with their undergraduate programs.

    Also, I would not go into a MS program just for the sake of increasing chances into US PhD programs because US PhD programs by themselves include the coursework of the MS program (and are thus longer than PhD programs elsewhere). You don't need a MS to apply to US PhD, you only need a BS.

    Do you have research experience? Research experience, as well as internship experience, is highly valued in the US. It is often the tiebreaker in many applications.

    And a final note, make sure to research the programs you want to enter very thoroughly. A big factor in choosing who to accept is the match between the applicant and the department, and if you could increase your chances by choosing a department you are more suited to (though don't necessarily want to pursue that field), you should still choose that department and then later you can change to something you are deeply passionate about. The key is to first get accepted, then you have a lot of leeway with your options.

    For example, say your undergrad major was in EE and you did some research in VLSI and micrcontroller based instrumentation. Then later you decide you want to be a physicist. You can apply to the EE department, get accepted, take courses in Physics, get known to the professors, and later petition the Physics department for transferring there. Most US universities do allow this. This is better than just applying for the PhD in physics for which you at the time of application might not be the best choice... it's a gamble though so it must be done with caution.

  6. Aug 27, 2012 #5
    That's noted what you've said, especially about the internships (which don't seem emphasized so much here in the u.k.)Thanks,

    So d'you have any idea how the likes of Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews Universities are viewed in America by the likes of say, GeorgiaTech, Rochester, Washington, California Berkeley, M.I.T, Harvard?
  7. Aug 27, 2012 #6
    I don't know, I would just apply. Comparing universities across national borders is not feasible, IMO.

    When applying, the key is to spread out your universities in terms of their selectiveness.

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